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A Security Service Plot against Harold Wilson

The geopolitical situation in the twentieth century was under the force of change by virtue of some historical shifts in many countries. The major ones, like The USSR, the United States of America and the UK, provided several designs of turning situations and current events in their favour separately or in combination. The help of intelligence services played at that time great role in working out of governmental controversies by means of well-planned secret missions.

Harold Wilson was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the 1960s and early 1970s providing the policy of Labour Party. He was deeply assured in further democratic reorganization and stabilization on the area of the UK and urged to implement various reforms to support his policy in times when world was on the edge of “cold war”. At the same time it is necessary to mention that in the 60s there was a design and realization of plot against Harold Wilson. The details of the reasons and circumstances were for a long period of time top secret for the society.

Not so long ago the world had a possibility to adventure the fully documented arguments of Wilson’s affair and the detailed information with certain number of hypothesis about the nature of planned army coup in Great Britain when Wilson was in office. This information was reported due to the BBC. Too many facts and documents mainly coincide in statements of Wilson’s ulterior policy during his being in power.

In spite of British-American relationships governments of both countries had no ideas of the secret operation maintained by the secret cervices, namely: MI5, MI6 and CIA. First, there should straightforward evidences of why these services were intended to begin contradicting Prime Minister at that time. In accordance with “The Mirror” the gradual and relatively unhampered rise on the career ladder gave Wilson many opportunities to find and gather his allies for further actions:

As a minister in Attlee’s postwar government, as a backbench MP, as Labour leader after Hugh Gaitskell and as Prime Minister four times in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Wilson was the target of elements in the security services seeking his downfall. In the view of hard-right MI5 mavericks like “Spycatcher” Peter Wright, who later confessed his role in the plot, Socialists were the same as Communists – intent on delivering the UK to the Kremlin. Wright confessed: “We discussed how to get rid of him.” Brian Crozier, another ex-spook, admits that “top members” of the Army were involved in the takeover talks. (The Mirror 2006)

One point being of great interest is the way Wilson won office. It was a result of scandalous affairs of previously assigned “UK Minister of Defence John Profumo, a certain Lord Astor, a girl called Christine Keeler, and a showgirl called Mandy Rice-Davies.” (Aangirfan 2006) Later it emerged that above mentioned women were somehow enrolled by Israeli secret service Mosad. Universally accepted truth that ‘the cat would be always out of the bag somehow’ cannot but be applied here. Harold Wilson was under a cloud from the very beginning of his political careers. It is a reminder that at that time the work of various espionage rings drew to a head.

For example, in the 40s British and American governments had already confronted with espionage activity of so-called “Cambridge Five”. These five men made a great contribute to the Soviet science due to their delivery of secret information according to designing nuclear bombs. These blunders were enough for British intelligence service to keep a strict eye on distrustful person of Harold Wilson and people who sheltered themselves behind his authority.

Former arms minister Lord Chalfont agrees that a coup would have involved “very senior people.” To bolster their sordid case for ousting a democratically-elected government, MI6 invented a Russian lover for Wilson, and passed a “compromising” photograph of the pair in Moscow to MI5 – who fed it straight to the media. It was also claimed that Wilson had taken bribes, and supplied classified information to Soviet “moles”. A Soviet defector fingered the Prime Minister as a KGB agent, and claimed there was a Communist cell in Downing Street. (BBC2, 2006)

Still was the possible coup an opportunity to detect Wilson’s innocence? Looking at the dramatic flow of further events it is clear that he not only withstood first term in office but also was elected in next years up to early 70s. It is quite obvious and logically that during this time Sir Harold Wilson had great chances to make influences by means of his authority on the members of his government in order to have enough information at the moment.

This hypothesis had been covered with scepsis, unless the direct fact of Wilson’s belonging to foreign security services. One fact concerns the above mentioned situation and background which helped Harold Wilson become the Prime Minister of the UK particularly immixture of some persons having been involved in that scandal to Masad. “Secret Documents have revealed that the UK supplied Israel with quantities of plutonium while Harold Wilson was prime minister.” (Aangirfan 2006)

The actions and all efforts versus the Prime Minister worried the higher representatives of the society. The heads of MI5 and MI6 were implementing and working out their campaigns so that Wilson was brought his anti-British activity home to him. The behind-the-scenes judgement of Minister’s probable common interests with KGB or Masad continued during his second and third terms.

Nigel West, an outstanding writer being a representative of espionage genre, criticizes in his books many of the spontaneous actions of secret services in Great Britain emphasizing it by stating the following remark: “It is one of the paradoxes of the British intelligence tradition that whereas there is a convention, and now a criminal statute, to prevent intelligence officers from making unauthorized disclosures, more have done so in this country than anywhere else in the world.” (Johnson 91)

It is undoubtedly will not do to act like this, but, on the other hand, the situation was full of facts which could discredit the policy and reputation of the country in any time causing disorganization in rows of its defenders. It is so when addressing to the words of former officers in this sphere of interests, especially those from the foreign services. For instance, “Anatoli Golitsin, a spy who defected from the KGB, claimed that Hugh Gaitskell was murdered in 1963 so that Harold Wilson, a ‘KGB agent’, could become leader of the Labour Party.” (Aangirfan 2006)

Summing up all facts mentioned and other which still exist behind the scenes, one can suppose that the operation against former Prime Minister was well-planned and reported to the appropriate foreign intelligence bodies, so that to prevent country from international, political and social disaster. The plot as of Harold Wilson could not reduplicate many of the mistakes having appeared in American-British foreign relationships, one of which was a fascinating path of espionage work of Rudolf Abel who did an enormous harm to intelligence agency of the United States being straightforwardly involved in it. The army coup against Harold Wilson was being plotted for few years, but resulted in backstage underlying reasons.


West, Nigel. [Rupert Allason] (1983). A Matter of Trust: MI5 1945-72. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. The Circus: MI-5 Operations 1945- 1972. New York: Stein & Day.

Johnson, Loch K (2007). Strategic Intelligence. Greenwood Publishing Group.

Aangirfan. (2006). The Plot Against Harold Wilson – what they missed out. Web.

Phibbs, Harry (2006). The Plot Against Harold Wilson. BBC2. Web.

Morgan, Austen (1992). Harold Wilson. Pluto Press, Michigan University.

Leigh, David (1988). The Wilson plot: how the spycatchers and their American allies tried to overthrow the British government. Pantheon Books, 1988.


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